Travel-acquired infections and illnesses in Canadians: surveillance report from CanTravNet surveillance data, 2009–2011
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A new study published today in Open Medicine surveys the spectrum of illnesses that Canadians acquire when travelling abroad.
The study by Andrea Boggild and colleagues appears online on Open Medicine < http://www.openmedicine.ca/> and in the attached PDF.
“We diagnosed a fair number of travellers with preventable tropical infections such as malaria and typhoid fever, in addition to vaccine preventable illnesses such as influenza and varicella,” says Boggild of the study, a Canada-wide, comprehensive study of data from 4365 travellers and immigrants who presented to the Canadian Travel Medicine Network. A total of 90.3% of this group were diagnosed with a travel-related illness.
Although Canadians are increasingly mobile and the potential for importing diseases from abroad continues to grow, until now there hasn`t been a comprehensive, multicentre comparison of illnesses acquired by a broad range of Canadian travellers returning from regions on all continents. This study, then, provides information that until now we have had to infer from travel-acquired illness in other groups.
The study uncovered a number of surprises for travelling Canadians and Canadian immigrants. For example, travel to visit friends and relatives carries a particularly high risk of illness. Serious diseases, like malaria, malaria or enteric fever, are in fact common imported illnesses. And diseases significant to public health, like hepatitis B and tuberculosis, are common as well among returning travellers.
“In order to maximize opportunities for prevention of these types of potentially serious infections,” Boggild says, “travellers should seek pre-travel medical consultation at least 6 weeks in advance of travel to the tropics. Family doctors and other health care workers can encourage their patients to do so as well.”
Andrea K. Boggild, MSc, MD, DTMH, FRCPC, is the Clinical Director of the Tropical Disease Unit and a Staff Physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases, University Health Network – Toronto General Hospital; Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto; and the Parasitology Lead with Laboratory Services, Public Health Ontario, Toronto, Ontario. Jennifer Geduld, MHSc, BSc, is Manager, Epidemiology with the Travel and Migration Health Division, Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Michael Libman, MD, is Director of the Centre for Tropical Diseases, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and member of the Department of Microbiology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec. Brian J. Ward, MSc, MDCM, DTM&H, is Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Microbiology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec. Anne E. McCarthy, MD, FRCPC, DTM&H, is Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, and Director of the Tropical Medicine and International Health Clinic, The Ottawa Hospital–General Campus, Ottawa, Ontario. Patrick W. Doyle, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, is Medical Microbiologist with the Division of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, Vancouver General Hospital, and Clinical Profes¬sor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. Wayne Ghesquiere, MD, FRCPC, is an Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine Consultant and Section Chief of Infectious Diseases with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Victoria, British Columbia, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. Jean Vincelette, MD, is Full Clinical Professor with the Département de microbiologie médicale et infectiologie, Hôpital Saint-Luc, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec. Susan Kuhn, MD, is Head, Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and Associate Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta. David O. Freedman, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Director of the UAB Travelers Health Clinic with the Gorgas Center for Geographic Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama. Kevin C. Kain, MD, FRCPC, is Co-Director of the Tropical Disease Unit and a Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University Health Network – Toronto General Hospital and University of Toronto, and Director of the Sandra A. Rotman Laboratories, Sandra Rotman Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario.
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